Says The Washington Post this morning, “Some Republican leaders think that primary and caucus voters will be looking for the most electable candidate, which would play to Romney’s one clear advantage. But a Post-ABC News poll in October found that more than seven in 10 Republicans said it was more important to support a candidate who shares their views on the issues rather than one who is considered most likely to win next November. In the other five areas tested in the new survey, Romney shows no greater strength than other GOP contenders. On empathy, 21 percent say Cain is the one who best understands their problems, compared with Romney’s 17 percent. On honesty, it’s Cain at 22 percent, Romney at 17 percent. The two also run closely on the economy and issues generally, while Newt Gingrich rivals Romney on upholding core Republican values.”

On Meet the Press yesterday, GOP strategist Alex Castellanos said that if Herman Cain won Iowa, he could sweep the early primaries and win the nomination. Surely that could happen. The fact that Romney has stayed at 25% while Cain has been soiled by three sexual harassment stories tells me that the GOP just doesn’t want to elect Romney. The fact that Romney has had to endure the boomlets of Trump, Bachmann, Perry and Cain tells me that the GOP just doesn’t want to elect Romney. They do not love the Ken Doll. And Cain is like Icarus–the closer he gets to the sun, the sooner he will melt. The pizza will not be delivered.

None of this would matter much if President Obama weren’t so weak. But economic conditions are terrible, and his favorability rating among independents is at 40 percent. He is eminently beatable. But not by someone who is going into a gunfight armed with a pea shooter.

Every year pundits seem to look for a state that is a magic domino that will, when it falls for a candidate, bring most of the other states in after it. But given how split these candidates are, and given how swoony the GOP electorate has been for a Knight on Horseback all year, could this not be the year when a late entry turns some post-Super Tuesday primaries into a surge that he rides into the convention, and out of nowhere beats this very weak field?

Someplace out there, a Jeb Bush or a Haley Barber or a Chris Christie or, dast I say it?–a Donald Trump is looking up and thinking “No one is winning this game. No one is scoring. I can get into this game at halftime and still win.”

[Cross-posted at]

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Jamie Malanowski is a writer and editor. He has been an editor at Time, Esquire and most recently Playboy, where he was Managing Editor.